Resources on other religions

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #1

As a growing Christian, I have been studying a lot on the topic of Christian apologetics so that when I go off to (a secular) university, I can not only ask the tough questions, but so that I can also defend the Truth intellectually. I have read many of the apologetic classics like Mere Christianity, Can Man Live Without God, and Cold-Case Christianity. I own a new copy of Evidence that Demands a Verdict and Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. I am currently reading The Case for Christ (which is fantastic). But I feel tremendously illiterate in the topic of religions, as in different world religions. I would really love to study deeper into this topic so that can learn how they stand verses the Christian faith. I would like to know how to defend Christ’s Truth against people of other religions and learn how promote the gospel so that it is appealing to those from other religions. I would love it and would be eternally grateful if the wonderful members of RZIM Connect could point me in the right direction so that I may learn more on this important topic. What resources (books, videos, websites, etc) would you suggest?
(Keep in mind that I do own a copy of Ravi Zacharias’ Jesus Among Other Gods, but haven’t read it yet; it’s next on my must-read list).

(SeanO) #2

@O_wretched_man Here are some resources you may consider. The first book looks good, though I have not read it personally. Walter Martin’s book is a classic we used at seminary. Of course you have probably already read Nabeel’s book. Then there are some courses / resources from Gospel Coaltion / CARM / RZIM you may find helpful.

I think the best way to learn is to actually read the source texts if you have time. Doing so has always led me to see anew the uniqueness of Scripture.

Hope that helps :slight_smile: The Lord Jesus bless you as you study.

(Albert Schmidt) #3

My favourite apologist for Islam was our brother Nabeel. Abdu is also awesome, but I feel there is less material from him out there. However, Nabeels material is an awesome start. I also like David Wood, which focuses also on Islam only. He is a little controverse at times, but I like that. “The Apostate Prophet” is a secular guy who claims to have been highly involved in Islam, but then left his religion. His reasons and arguments are interesting and a good way to learn some questions you may ask muslims. Obviously, he won’t teach you the Christian perspective.

Vishal Mangalwadi is a Christian from India. He has to say a lot about Christian influence on the world, particularly on India, and on Hinduism and Buddhism.

Steven Bancarz is a former new-ager.

They are all on Youtube, so you might want to check them out.
Hope I could help

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #4

I know the Qur’an is the text for Islam, but what about Hinduism or Buddhism? What texts do they have?
(If my parents reacted so strongly when I bought an NIV bible, I can’t imagine their reaction if they caught me reading the Qur’an! )

(Lakshmi Mehta) #5

@O_wretched_man, Hindu scriptures are vast and are called Vedas, with Rigveda being the oldest. No one really reads from the vedas. The upanishads are philosophical commentaries on the vedas which are also vast. Then there are the Puranas with stories about the universe, different kings and the different gods. What most Hindus read is "Bhagavad Gita " which is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna in the epic Mahabharat and presents concepts like dharma, karma, yoga, moksha. Different schools of Hinduism interpret slightly differently. The gita contains the essence of the basic philosophy of Hinduism. People are usually also familiar with stories of Mahabharat and another epic called Ramayana.

(SeanO) #6

@O_wretched_man You should get a Kindle if you do not already have one - then no matter what you are reading it is on the same device and it won’t hurt your eyes like screen reading. Plus, when you highlight things you can view all of your highlights online and search them with Ctrl-F, which is faster than flipping through yellow highlights on the page, though I must confess there is something about a real book with a highlighter taken to it that still appeals to me.

@Lakshmismehta already covered Hinduism. If you are wanting to dive into the deep end we had a good discussions a while back that I’ll link to below on concepts related to Hinduism.

For world religions and cults, I think CARM has some helpful articles and can be a starting place to get familiar with terms and ideas. Here is the CARM page on buddhism.

Based on quick reading it looks like not all Buddhists use the sacred texts and there is disagreement about which ones are legitimate. But the below quotes offer a brief overview.

“The Buddhist canon consists of the Sutras: the words and teachings of the Buddha. There are also a number of noncanonical Buddhist texts that provide supplementary teachings, rules of conduct and commentary on transitional states after death. The Tripitaka (Pali Canon), Mahayana Sutras and the Tibetan Book of the Dead are three major noncanonical Buddhist texts. The Pali Canon, which means “the word of Buddha,” includes some of the Buddha’s discourse, but it also incorporates the teachings of his pupils. Different sects of Buddhism follow canonical and noncanonical scriptures to varying degrees.”

“In Buddhism, sutras, also known as suttas , are canonical scriptures, many of which are regarded as records of the oral teachings of Gautama Buddha. The Pali form of the word, sutta , is used exclusively to refer to the scriptures of the early Pali Canon , the only texts recognized by Theravada Buddhism as canonical.”

I think the only thing that is important is not to led a voracious appetite for learning displace time spent meditating upon the Word of God, which is a mirror for our soul and more desirable than gold!

(Lakshmi Mehta) #7

I would echo that! So true! When we are reading other scriptures, I think it is very important to be prayerful in Jesus also because of the source of spiritual inspiration behind other scriptures.

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #8

If they can’t even decide what texts to use, but the Christians have the Bible, why do skeptics love to “poke holes” into the Bible and Christianity in general when other religions and their texts would be a lot easier to discredit? How come secularists don’t make a big deal of the historical reliability of the Qur’an, the Vedas, the Sutras, or even the book of Mormon? Like Ravi says, the Bible always outlives its pallbearers.

(SeanO) #9

@O_wretched_man I think you have to remember that cultural context makes a big difference. Why do atheists like Richard Dawkins always attack Christianity? Because Christianity is the dominant religion in the West. Otherwise, they would pick a different target. People are attempting to overthrow the ideas prevalent in their culture. If the dominant religion in the West were Hinduism, I imagine that skeptics would go after it much more fervently. In essence, those other religions are already discredited - they are not dominant - they are marginal and therefore there is no real need to overthrow them in the public sphere.

Does that make sense?

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #10

Yes, but (I have no stats to back this up) isn’t the following of Islam growing here in the west, too? On one hand people fear Islamic extremists, and on the other they don’t want to be seen as intolerant to a minority group. I remember Abdu Murray writing this in his book Saving Truth:

After being disinvited from appearing on a public radio station in Berkeley, California, because of his harsh criticisms of Islam, Richard Dawkins noted the hypocrisy of allowing him to freely criticize Christianity to thunderous applause on college campuses, only to have that freedom restricted because he had criticized a minority religion. (page 87)

Would Christianity still count as the dominant religion, or has secularization (or just plain spirituality) taken over? I know that the America was founded on Christian ideals, but th culture seems to have long since moved away from that way of thinking.

(SeanO) #11

@O_wretched_man Honestly, I have not studied enough to answer the question of what the status quo is… I think that our culture is in flux right now and quite divided. On another note, the world has never truly seen a nation where Christ’s teaching was embodied. People always distort the Gospel - that is just the way the world works. In the 1900s people claimed to follow Jesus while being racist. Now people claim to follow Jesus while living in sexual immorality of all forms. The way of Christ is narrow and will always be marginalized.

Jesus was clear with the disciples that the world would never love those who honored Him. So it should not be surprising that the Scriptures are under attack. All other religions are a denial of the Son of God and so they are not a spiritual war with each other, whereas we walk in the Light of Jesus in a world that seeks to remain in the darkness.

John 18:18-15 - “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[a] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

Is that helpful?

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #12

Jesus said so himself:
Matthew 7:13-14
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.

Yes I get at what you are saying. Verse 25 that you quote there is very true today “They hated me without reason” yet secularization likes to think that they are the ones that still reason while Christians are the ones that live in blissful fantasy. Funny how that works.
Thank you for answering!

(SeanO) #13

@O_wretched_man Yes, but it is important to remember that others are blinded by the evil one. It is very frustrating that the world singles out Christ followers, but we must remember that they are slaves to sin and death. We are free - sons of the King - and we must have compassion on those who are blind.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 - And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #14

…and that we were at one point in life exactly where they are now.

Romans 7:14-25
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.

Paul still suffered his sinful nature. That is why we are to show compassion, because we were once there, too.

(SeanO) #15

@O_wretched_man I prefer Titus 3:3-7 - At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Read through Romans 6-8 again and take out a notepad. For each chapter, make a list of the main actors involved - mind, law, sin, Spirit.

I want you to notice something - which actor is missing from Paul’s description of himself in Romans 7 that is present in Romans 8? What do you think that means?

Also, what does Romans 6 say about us being slaves to sin? Do you see any contradiction in what you just posted from Romans 7? What might that suggest?

(Jimmy Sellers) #16

I like to think of Islam and Christianity as religions that see Jesus as foundational to their respective beliefs. Together they make up roughly half the worlds population. The problem is which Jesus? The Jesus of the Bible or the Jesus of the Quran? They both can’t be right but they can both be wrong.